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The Mission-style burrito

San Francisco is famous for its burritos. Surprised? The Mexican burrito is a popular lunch or dinner item around the world, but this classic dish has been given a unique twist in San Francisco, called the Mission-style burrito. Make it your mission to try at least one during your visit to the City by the Bay.

The Mission-style burrito originated in the 1960s in San Francisco’s Mission District. The neighbourhood was primarily home to Latinos and, consequently, dozens of taquerias, i.e. Mexican fast-food joints. The Mission-style burrito is a combination of beans, guacamole, sour cream, meat and vegetables; but what makes it so different from other burritos is its gigantic size, the addition of rice, and the fact that it’s wrapped in aluminium foil, which is essential to keep all the ingredients from spilling out.

The colourful Mission District
The colourful Mission District


The perfect burrito

Beyond discussion

There is an understanding in San Francisco that there are 3 things you never debate with friends: politics, religion and the best taqueria in town. Ask 10 random passers-by about their favourite taco joint and you’re bound to get 10 different answers. However, to all the people of San Francisco, quality is what matters most. The rice should not just be a filling, but have a good flavour, the beans need to be cooked perfectly, and the meat must be of excellent quality.

Ultra-tender pork

Taqueria San Francisco is located at the end of the Taco Trail – a section of 24th Street between Mission and Potrero Hill filled with taquerias. The meat served here is so tender it must have fallen off the spit and landed right into your burrito. The al pastor burrito (slow-roasted marinated pork) is a popular choice. They also serve a version with steamed chicken. Both are irresistible.

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“The Taco Trail is a section of 24th Street between Mission and Potrero Hill filled with taquerias”

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Taqueria San Francisco, 2794 24th Street, San Francisco
Papalote Mexican Grill

Salsa as the secret weapon

Fresh ingredients are important and they fully understand this at Papalote Mexican Grill, where the meat is not cooked until you order it. But their real secret weapon is their roasted tomato salsa. This sauce has a deep, rich and smoky flavour and magically transforms every bite into a true taste explosion. This salsa is so popular in San Francisco that it can be bought by the jar for home use.

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Papalote Mexican Grill, 3409 24th Street, San Francisco

Burrito with fried plantains

Obviously, one of the most important ingredients in a burrito is the meat, but that doesn’t mean that there are no good vegetarian alternatives. The fried plantain & black bean burrito from The Little Chihuahua is almost better than the (organic!) meat varieties served by this taqueria. Whereas lots of taquerias replace meat with tofu, the Little Chihuahua has chosen a different approach. Their veggie burrito is filled with slices of creamy fried plantain, roasted peppers, black beans and cheese – an amazingly delicious combination!

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The Little Chihuahua

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The Little Chihuahua, 292 Divisadero Street, San Francisco

Photo credits

  • Papalote Mexican Grill: Papalote Mexican Grill
  • The Little Chihuahua: Adam Fagen, Flickr